The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle on songwriting, feminism, and the new album:
Paste: How does your feminism inform your songwriting, not to mention your reading of the Bible?
Darnielle: My feminism is what came squarely up against my faith. There’s a lot of ecstatic post-patriarchal Christians who have stuff they do with that. But at that point, you’re doing Christianity with a double-superscript. The Bible, and especially the book of Genesis, is pretty unapologetically patriarchal. But as a songwriter, I’m actually really happy to be asked that. For years, I’ve written narrators who aren’t gender-identified. When I do autobiographical stuff, that’s different, obviously. But I’ve always tried to keep my songs as potentially not a man’s thing. I think so many rock songs you assume by default it’s a man’s thing. That’s a weakness of narrative. And when I was younger, my early songs employed this trope that is popular to this day with indie singer-songwriters, where a guy is gonna hurt himself or do something drastic and appalling in order to show the object of his affection how intense his love for her is.
Paste: And we’re supposed to celebrate his self-destruction.
Darnielle: Yeah! And you’re supposed to think that’s amazing when these guys tell these stories: “Oh, he broke something, he hurt somebody, he did something rash; his love must have been so great!” instead of, “Oh no, he’s a psycho.” When I was younger, I did those too. And then I thought, that’s kinda bullshit to tell stories like that. I try not to write songs in which men glamorize their own need for approval from women. That’s kinda a bogus way to go out. But I try to do this quietly, I’m not about to go around telling people how they should or shouldn’t think. My feminism is for me. [emphasis added]
Read the full interview here.